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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

EDUCATION IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE        95

cultured adherents of paganism. In Alexandria, the anti-Chris-
tian movement was comparatively feeble, and after Hypatia had
died at the hands of a Christian mob (415) it numbered no out-
outstanding thinkers in its ranks. But perhaps because of its very-
weakness it was allowed to linger on without hindrance; and it
continued to maintain a semblance of continuity till it was finally
swept away by the Arab invasion of 640. It was different in
Athens. There the Neo-Platonists succeeded in making them-
selves heirs to the traditions of the Platonic school, and a fairly
capable succession of philosophers enjoyed the old endowments
of the Academy. But as the Fifth Century wore on, their position
became more and more insecure. Their existence was felt
to be a challenge to the Christianity of the State, and one edict
after another was issued by the emperors against such pagan
institutions a& theirs. Finally in 539, when the school was in
the last stages of decrepitude, Justinian brought it to an end by
confiscating its material resources, and forbidding the teaching
of philosophy and law in Athens.

The fate of the public schools of grammar and rhetoric through-
out the Empire is more obscure. All that can be said with
certainty about them is that they were flourishing in the Fourth
Century (though even then signs of decline were evident) and that
with a few exceptions they had disappeared by the Sixth Century.
The immediate cause of their disappearance was the shaking of
the foundations of Roman society by the inpouring of barbarian
hordes from the north all through the Fifth Century. In the
period of profound unsettlement which preceded and followed
the collapse of the Western Empire, it was inevitable that in-
stitutions so fragile and so costly as the schools should be the
first to suffer. In their own interests the invaders were compelled
to have some respect for the existing machinery of law and
administration, and they generally permitted the Roman agencies
of government to continue in operation under the protection of
the great towns. But they were too illiterate to have any desire
to preserve the schools, or any wish to restore them after an orgy
of destruction. It is possible, indeed, that if Roman education
had been in a healthy condition salvation might have come from
within. But unfortunately the shock of the invasions came
upon the schools at a time when the Empire was divided against
itself in matters of education. The ambiguous position of schools